the worship experiment, uk: week 15

St. Michael’s Church, Stanwix
28 February, 6:30pm

I decided to go to St. Michael’s, my parish church (the one in my community), at the last moment. I was on the way out of the door to go to St. James’ and decided to walk up the street and see if St. Michael’s was having their evening contemporary service, Engage. They were. In fact, sometime in the past 6 months, they’ve switched from doing this service once a month to every week.

The feeling when I walked in was very casual. The church building is pretty large, with a big choir area. Though the nave has pews, the transept area has chairs, which on the left side, had been moved—some facing forward, others inward. To the left of the chairs was a table with coffee, tea and biscuits, which I was invited to twice and was open during the service. To the right of the transept, in line with the chairs, was the band, which consisted of the worship leader on acoustic guitar, drums, flute, and three vocalists, all around one mic. All of the vocalists were female, including the worship leader, Jo, who is the vicar’s wife. We received no bulletin or books when we came in and the songs were on the screen only.

After a brief intro of the service by one of the vocalists, we had a time of musical worship—about 4 songs, a mixture of choruses and hymns. I caught a glimpse of the service order because it was on the chair next to me, and saw that they had split the scripture passage into three parts with a time of prayer and reflection between each—probably the least “Anglican” and most creative service I’ve seen during my time here. The woman who was “speaking” came to the front and read the Mark version of Peter’s denial, then explained how they had divided the message into three parts. She then proceeded with the first (read from notes), then we had a long time of silent meditation followed by prayer. The guitar and flute followed with a little music, and we repeated this two more times.

After that came another set of worship songs, then a closing prayer. It was a very thought-provoking evening and refreshing because I sensed that to those leading the service, worship was more than music, but all of the elements of the service. They flowed together and there was never a moment when I was distracted by the next element. I spoke with the worship leader after and thanked her for the evening.

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